Usman Iftikhar leans against a table in a brightly lit office space
Pakistan and Austalian map outlines, connected by a dotted line

Usman Iftikhar

Born Pakistan | Arrived Australia 2013 | Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Catalysr

Usman Iftikhar is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Catalysr, a social enterprise that helps migrants start their own businesses. In its first 18 months, the Western Sydney-based social enterprise has worked with 66 first generation migrant entrepreneurs and helped create 14 new businesses.

My dream is for a brighter, more connected future for all Australians, old and new.Usman Iftikhar

Difficulty finding meaningful employment

Coming to Australia wasn’t an easy journey for me. I moved here with an Engineering Degree from the top Pakistan university, before completing a Masters at the University of Wollongong. However, I couldn’t find meaningful employment for more than two years. It wasn’t until I decided to create my own job, by starting my own business, that things began to change.

Usman stands with classmates at his graduation from University in Pakistan, 2012.
Usman graduating from University in Pakistan, 2012.
Usman, smiling, takes notes in his office.

I enrolled at the School of Social Entrepreneurs, where I met my Catalysr co-founder, Jacob. We saw other migrants experiencing similar challenges to what I faced in their attempts to enter the Australian workforce, so we launched Catalysr with the goal of empowering migrants to start their own businesses.

Usman Iftikhar

Creating jobs and contributing

We launched Catalysr with the goal of empowering migrants to start their own businesses, create jobs and make a valuable contribution to the Australian economy and society.

At Catalysr, I see a lot of the hurdles that migrants need to overcome to be successful. These include low self-confidence, a lack of networks and cultural barriers. At the same time, migrants are very enterprising. They are quite resourceful, demonstrate grit, and build internal resilience to move to a new country and make a life, which makes them great candidates for entrepreneurship.

Usman looking towards the camera
Usman's goal is to create 10,000 jobs in the next 10 years to spark a "migrapreneurial" revolution.
To anyone looking to start their own venture I say act on your dreams and give it a try.Usman Iftikhar

51% of migrant business owners have a degree or higher

compared to 38% of non-migrant business owners

52% started their business to gain 'greater independence'

25% of migrant business owners are providing training to young people

Compared to 19% of non-migrant business owners

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Media Enquiries

For all media enquiries, including interview opportunities with inspiring migrant business owners, please contact the CGU media hotline: +61 (0) 2 9292 9742